Self and Story in Early Childhood : Children’s Developing Minds Revealed by Parent-led Research book cover
1st Edition

Self and Story in Early Childhood
Children’s Developing Minds Revealed by Parent-led Research

ISBN 9781032014647
Published September 22, 2022 by Routledge
336 Pages 8 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

Our children grow up into a world of stories—in books, on screens—but what do they make of the stories we offer them? What do they think and feel as they listen to a parent read a picture-book? What if a story confuses or upsets them?

Over the past fifty years, several intelligent, committed mothers undertook the onerous task of recording exactly what their children said and did in response to the stories they shared. Some of their records extended over five years, or even longer. Their research, done without funding or academic supervision, offers us unparalleled insight into children’s minds long before they learn to speak—let alone learn to read.

In Self and Story in Early Childhood, Hugh Crago draws on his unusual combination of expertise in literary studies, developmental psychology and psychotherapy to re-examine the startling implications of this neglected body of evidence. He highlights how much children can achieve without formal teaching, but with the supportive presence of a trusted adult who will participate with them in the story experience.

This book will be of great interest to scholars of developmental psychology, early literacy and narratology, as well as to professionals working with preschoolers. Most of all, it will fascinate parents who themselves share stories with their child.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements List of Tables Preface Part I - Foundations for Understanding: 1. Stories, Pictures and Young Children Part 2 - The Evidence: 2. Self in the Mirror of Story (Infancy to Early Speech) 3. Limits and Losses (Two to Three-and-a-Half) 4. The Magic Year (Three-and-a-Half to Four-and-a-Half) 5. ‘A Freestanding Fictional World’ (Four-and-a-Half to Seven) Part 3 - Conclusions: 6. The Interaction of Self and Story Children's Books Mentioned in the Text Scholarly References Index

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Hugh Crago has lectured in several universities and has published nine books and many articles. He was himself a parent-researcher alongside his wife, Maureen Crago. He lives in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, Australia.


Prelude to Literacy, 1983 (with Maureen Crago) ‘Like ships that pass in the night … some of the most significant clinical research slips past us … This volume describes a superb piece of multi-dimensional research’ (Carl L. Klein in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Review)

A Circle Unbroken, 1999 ‘… reminiscent of Erik Erikson’s work in terms of its psychoanalytic roots, its whole-life perspective, its anthropological and literary references, and its breadth and boldness’. (Graham Bradley in Psychotherapy in Australia)

Entranced by Story, 2014 ‘The most stimulating book I’ve read so far this year’ (James le Paul in The Gleaner)

‘Crago is brilliant, erudite, knowledgeable about authors and readers, a commanding storyteller himself …’ (Ralf Thiede in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly)

The Stages of Life, 2017 ‘Despite Crago’s clear debts to theory and research, nothing here is just slavishly echoed … this book is the product of true maturity’ (Wolfgang Loth in Systeme)